A former baseball commentator who was suspended for using a homophobic slur and eventually failed to have his contract renewed by Fox Sports claims that 90% of Cincinnati Reds fans want him back on the air.
Thom Brennaman, a former Major League Baseball and National Football League play-by-play commentator, was suspended in August of last year after he was caught on a “hot mic” saying a homophobic slur during a broadcast of a Cincinnati Reds game as a commercial break was ending. He apologized later in the night, saying he was “deeply ashamed” of the comments.
“I can’t begin to tell you how deeply sorry I am. That is not who I am and it never has been,” he said. “I’d like to think maybe I could have some people that can back that up. I am very, very sorry, and I beg for your forgiveness.”
At the time, the Reds issued a statement condemning Brennaman’s use of the slur as “horrific.” He was suspended for the comment, and ultimately resigned from his position with both the Reds and Fox Sports Ohio. Six months after the incident, Fox Sports decided not to renew his contract.
But Brennaman would like to find redemption, and not have his reputation tarred by the comment. He says that most people in Cincinnati appear to agree with him.
“If I’m in the grocery or getting a cup of coffee at the local convenient shop, 99% of those I bump into, I’ll hear, ‘We wish you were back, we miss you!'” Brennaman said in an interview with David Halberstam of Sports Broadcast Journal. “Let’s say it’s even 90%. Are execs going to make a decision to appease the 10%? Wouldn’t you listen to the massive 90%?”
He continues to apologize for using the slur, noting that he has taken responsibility for his words.
“There’s no defending the word I used in any form or fashion, he said in the Sports Broadcast Journal interview. I’ve owned up to it every second since,” he said.
He claimed that sportscaster Bob Costas has been especially supportive, recommending him for an announcing job for the Chicago Cubs, and sympathizing with his trouble finding work following the incident.
“He’s told me that the crime doesn’t match the punishment,” Brennaman said.
Brennaman also noted that he has become a board member for a children’s home in the Cincinatti area that serves at-risk youth, including children thrown out of their homes for being LGBTQ, although he denies doing so to “check off any boxes.”
“For over a year, my interaction with the LGBTQ community has made me a better and more understanding person,” he said. “If there’s a way to right my wrong, I’m doing it and will continue to.”
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